It’s been 10 months since Abby and I were in Ethiopia. We’re still maintaining many of the friendships we started and providing support. Since then our family has undergone some big changes which I’ll share more in future posts.
Through all this God’s sustained us and we’ve come through this process trusting there’s a greater plan. I feel grateful.
For new readers, the purpose of our project is help orphans and sustain families (prevent more orphans due to poverty) in Ethiopia. Long term, we want to see more orphans be domestically adopted and stay in their birth country. This requires a holistic strategy, resources and committed people to developing solutions.
I’ve thought a lot about how to approach this huge issue and asking myself this question? What’s the best way to help people get out of the cycle of poverty? Is it sustainable work (work skills, education?) or is it business development and entrepreneurship? I think it’s both.
To underscore why, I like this blog post, “Capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid” which features Bono (yes, the rock star) who is putting a huge investment into raising support and develop businesses in Africa. In the following video he explains why.
In the video, Bono states, “Aid is just a stopgap… Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”
This aligns with part of our vision to help business development (think small businesses growth) in Ethiopia by empowering young entrepreneurs who will ultimately have a positive impact on families (who need jobs to prevent more orphans) and orphans (funding local adoptive families) in the community.
I’m looking to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to make difference in the life of a new entrepreneur in Ethiopia (not necessarily with your checkbook) with your business talents, wisdom and life experience. If this describes you, contact me here or connect with me on LinkedIn.
While Abby and I were in Ethiopia we met orphans and street children who have nobody to love to care for them. We also met children who are living in an orphanage because of extreme poverty. Many of these children have family members who are willing take care of of them but they are so poor and that they can barely feed themselves.
Poverty should not be the reason to take a child away from their family but this happening in poor countries around the world like Ethiopia. These are desperately poor families, who with the tiniest bit of help, could be able to raise their kids and keep the family together.
That’s the reason we started the Forever Families Project. We want care for and prevent more orphans and abandoned children by preserving families Ethiopia. Long term, we want to see more orphans be domestically adopted and stay in their homeland. This requires a holistic strategy, resources and committed people to developing solutions.
Thanks for Jerry and Christy Shannon at Embracing Hope Ethiopia for pointing me to this blog Alama ya Kitumaini “Sign of Hope“ I read this post, “a story (his, mine, and how the love was left out)” by Holly Mulford and it blew me away. Holly shares her inspiring story of how she saw there was a better answer to helping orphans.
Also, check out these great people we know who are helping orphans and family preservation in Ethiopia.
We visited Resurrection Orphanage & Center of Nekemte (ROCN). They care for orphaned and abandoned children to meet their basic needs and offer a loving Christian home environment.
ROCN is a new orphanage started by Tensaie Umeta (who was from Nekemte). I met Tensaie though North Heights Lutheran Church (my home church in MN). Nekemte is a city of 103,000 people but ROCN is the first orphanage in the area. So the need is great.
We loved spending time with these kids and they touched our hearts. We were able to bring new clothing that was donated by sponsors in MN. They also needed shoes and it was a blessing for us to take them shopping to buy new shoes.
Until coming to ROCN, these children had never been to school. They are bright kids but needed help to be ready to attend school. The director of the local private school has given free tuition to the children. He himself has taken in 6 orphans into his home and he provides for all their needs. The two house mothers at ROCN are amazing care for the children like their own 24/7.
The first ROCN home provides for 4 orphans, but can hold 6 more. A donor has pledged monthly support for the other children, however they still need $2,500 to buy beds, mattresses, linens, desks, tables, chairs, clothing and shoes to make this happen. Would you consider helping?
Abby and I went to Nekemte, Ethiopia to visit the Resurrection Orphanage Center of Nekemte (ROCN). The road Addis Ababa to Nekemte is rough. It’s unlike any road we’ve ever been on and locals say it’s the worst road in Ethiopia.
It’s not advisable to drive unless you have a four wheel drive vehicle. Fortunately, our driver Tamesgen was great. Thank you to Berhanie Umeta (my friend Tensaie Umeta’s sister) for accompanying us on our trip. No one knows when the road will be complete but once it’s finished there will be a significant economic impact for all of the communities this road passes through.
In the end, when we saw the kids at ROCN, the road trip was worth it. We give thanks to God that we were able travel safely.
The first person to greet us when we got off the plane in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was Pastor Mekebib Desta and his wife, Tigist Tesfaye. Thank you to Alex Shootman for connecting us!
Mekebib leads Emmanuel Light & Life Church and they have a ministry to help children who live on the streets of Addis Ababa. They minister out of their own poverty to help orphans and vulnerable children get their basic needs met and know the love of Jesus.
It’s estimated that over 100,000+ children live on the streets left to take care of themselves. The need here is overwhelming but there are people like Mekebib and his church that are making a difference in the lives of 54+ children every week. They also have church members like Rahel Tamirat and others who are helping orphans and poor children.
Abby and I are looking at practical ways we can support Mekebib and his team’s work here. We loved spending time with kids and seeing the difference this ministry is making. It’s great to the body of Christ at work and I’m grateful that we get to partner together.
Abby and I visited Embracing Hope Ethiopia that was founded by Jerry and Christy Shannon. Their focus is the poor, children, and orphans who live in a section of Addis Ababa known as Korah. This area of the city is very poor and is known as a forsaken place. It began as a leper colony and then the site of the city trash dump. It has a higher prevalence of poverty, crime, prostitution, and disease then many other areas of the city.
We love that this ministry works to serve young children and mothers in holistic ways. Abby and I truly enjoyed meeting the Shannon’s and their amazing Ethiopian staff at their their daycare center serving a 110+ children and 65+ moms.
Embracing Hope Ethiopia helps vulnerable moms and very young children. They provide a place where the children can be cared for and the moms are freed to work and provide for their families. The result is that more families are able to be kept together (i.e. preventing more orphans) and they are touched by Jesus’ love, hope and transformation.
During our visit we were able to hear story after story of a child who’s life was saved because they were able to get medical care and nutrition. Some of these children were within days of death when they first arrived. All of these children have loving moms who might be living with HIV, illness or through circumstances outside their control, they just don’t have the means to provide for their children.
As we met the children, it was clear they are being touched with the love of Christ and they are doing better at life because of the wonderful work of Embracing Hope Ethiopia. Abby and I are looking at ways we can come along side the work that’s happening here.
Visit the Embracing Hope Ethiopia website and pray about sponsoring a child.
Abby and I visited Rich in Knowledge Academy in Addis Ababa. It’s an excellent school where 40 students from ages 3 to 8 (k – 2nd grade) attend. We were blessed to learn that the school Director, Rahel Tamirat, provides free education for half the children who are orphans or are living in poverty. To do this, she takes no salary so she can pay the staff and school expenses. Why? She loves children and makes this sacrifice gladly to give them a future and experience the love of Christ.
The children gave us special treat of singing for us in English. It was so beautiful to see the joy in the kids and their smiles. When they sang, it reminded me of my 3-year old daughter Lydia who sang me same song.
This school needs help. Abby and I are talking about how we can come along side this school. It costs about $22 per month per student. Some of the children don’t have food at home so they can’t bring lunch and there’s no school lunch program here. These children are learning (while hungry) eating just one meal a day.
If you want to help a child get an education and have a school lunch, let us know. We’ll work to get funds directed to Rahel. Here’s a link to Rahel Tamirat’s facebook page.
Abby and I felt led to buy food and give it to the poor and orphans in the neighborhood where we’re staying in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We hoped something simple as fresh baked bread, apples and bottled water would bring some relief from morning hunger.
We had no plan beyond walking up the street and giving food out to those we felt needed it or asked us. We simply wanted to show love.
We came to a street corner where there were many poor people. As we gave out food, we were quickly surrounded and there were more hands than we had food to give. We ran out quickly.
But when we said we didn’t have any more instead of being upset those who received none still thanked us and were smiling. They seemed grateful and joyful. I can’t describe it.
Abby and I watched people who got food then share and divide it with others who got none. As they broke bread and shared water it reminded me of church communion. It was beautiful. Even in poverty the poor are generous.
It’s Christmas Eve and we’re traveling to Ethiopia today. Abby and I are excited to finally begin this adventure together!
As I write this post, we’re in Frankfurt, Germany on our way to Ethiopia. I’m feeling grateful for the support and prayers of friends and family who we will miss this Christmas. To me being able to go on this trip to love and help orphans with my daughter is the best Christmas gift ever. I thank God for making it all possible.
I wanted to give an update on our trip and how this connects with our vision for the Forever Families Project.
We’re connecting with four great groups while we’re in Ethiopia who align with our vision and help vulnerable children and orphans. Even though we have these plans, I’ve wanted to keep our agenda open. We are really hoping to begin new friendships, be a blessing and go where God leads us.
The first person we’re meeting is Mekebib Desta in Addis Ababa. Mekebib leads Emmanuel Light & Life Church and they have a ministry to help children who live on the streets of Addis Ababa. They minister out of their own poverty to help orphans and vulnerable children get their basic needs met and know the love of Jesus. It’s estimated that over 100,000 children live on the streets left to fend for themselves. Abby and I will get to spend two days with Mekebib’s team. Also, I’ve been invited to preach in Mekebib’s church.
The next group we’re meeting with is Embracing Hope Ethiopia that was founded by Jerry and Christy Shannon. Their focus is the poor, children, and orphans who live in a section of Addis Ababa known as Korah. This area of the city is very poor and is known as a forsaken place. It began as a leper colony and then the site of the city trash dump. It has a higher prevalence of poverty, crime, prostitution, and disease then many other areas of the city. We love that they have a focus to serve children and mothers in holistic ways to prevent more orphans. Abby and I look forward to meeting the Shannon’s and volunteering at their daycare center serving a 100+ children.
We’ll also be connecting with Bring Love In founded by Levi and Jessie Benker. Levi and Jessie have an amazing story which I encourage you to read in Levi’s book. It’s great. Bring Love In is a community of people who are working together to bring love in to the orphans and widows of Ethiopia. They connect orphans who are given to them by local authorities, and widows from within local Christian church communities, to create new forever families here in Ethiopia. Abby and I are really looking forward to spending time with Levi & Jessie’s family. It’s going to be fun meeting them.
The last group we’re visiting with is Resurrection Orphanage & Center of Nekemte. They provide for orphaned and abandoned children in Nekemte, Ethiopia (located about 240 miles west from Addis Ababa) by meeting the basic needs of shelter, food, clothing, basic medical care and spiritual education and training. This is a new orphanage started by friends at our home church in Mn. Nekemte is a pretty large city of 103,000 people but this is the first orphanage we are aware of in the community. The need is great. Abby and get to bring new clothes for 10 children and money that was donated for the orphanage. We’re looking forward to spending time with the children and staff there.
If you are looking for a groups to provide year end donations, please prayerfully consider these worthy organizations. That’s all for now. More updates to come along with pictures by Abby who will be our photographer for this trip.
What is the best way to lift people out of poverty and help orphans? I think part of the answer isn’t more aid, it’s sustainable work.
Ethiopia needs economic development. Currently, the Ethiopian economy is almost all agriculture (accounting for 80% of employment) but radical deforestation combined with period’s drought and is a major cause of extreme poverty.
We want to help business development (think small businesses growth) by empowering young entrepreneurs to ultimately have a positive impact on orphans in the society.
This morning I read Levi Benkert’s post on, “Poverty, and the War We Can’t Afford to Loose“. In it, he shares a story of offering a poor woman they had aided for almost a year an opportunity to start a business with funding. She refused.
This was an offer for her to climb out of poverty and make enough money to get her children into a good house, and even help put three meals on the table each day.
I can’t understand why a person who has lived her life in poverty and offered a way out (via a business they are capable of running) would refuse this gift?
I’m naive about poverty because I’ve never been poor. I’m not sure if this woman would have responded differently if she were offered a job instead of a business. Only God knows.
I know from experience that many people are willing to work but few are ready to start and run a businesses. So that brings me to a question that I’m praying about…
What’s the best way to lift people out of poverty? Is it sustainable work or is it business and entrepreneurship? I think it’s both.
Part of our vision to help business development (think small businesses growth) in Ethiopia by empowering young entrepreneurs who will ultimately have a positive impact on potential families (who need jobs) and orphans (funding orphanages) in the society.
I read this Harvard Business Review article, “The Microwork Solution” and I think they are on to something.
“The social entrepreneurs in the new “impact sourcing” industry believe the answer is providing work, not aid. Their organizations hire people at the bottom of the pyramid to perform digital tasks such as transcribing audio files and editing product databases. Essentially, they do business process outsourcing that also boosts economic development.”
I’m not aware of anyone in Ethiopia doing something like this but I hope to find someone while we’re there. I’m praying for wisdom. If you have ideas or resources, please let us know.